Nina Ashfield - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Nina Ashfield

USC graduate and Chancellor’s Medal recipient; former president of Amnesty International USC

Living on the Sunshine Coast is such a privilege. We have access to university education, healthcare, we are a democratic and multicultural society. Sometimes we can forget that others don’t share the same experiences as us. That’s why it’s important for us to listen to the experiences of people who are different to us – people of different genders, cultural backgrounds, religions, and anything else that often separates us. It helps us to understand each other, and makes us stronger, more accepting, better educated. It’s what creates a more diverse and inclusive society.

To achieve that, all of us need to support, promote and celebrate diversity. I take it as personal responsibility because we all need to contribute to change, or it will never happen. Anyone with privilege already has an audience they can spread a message to, so they need to use that platform to help create that change.

USC is a great place to make that happen. We’re essentially creating the world’s next leaders, so our students need to make their voices heard to the people in power who are making the decisions. If we don’t speak up, decisions will be made based on narrow experiences.

As a queer woman, it was great to see that philosophy put into action last year when same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia. That was a good example of making change happen through celebrating a diverse group of people who identify as LGBTQ+.

We are all different, with unique perspectives to offer, but we can all relate to our shared human experiences. We all belong, and we are stronger together.